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Hubris of the Athlete

23 Jan

Athletes have to believe in themselves. There is certain amount of belief in self that has be present in any athlete in order for them to perform under pressure. The good ones have a strong sense of pride. The great ones are downright arrogant. But, this inflated sense of self-worth is a detriment when the player over-values himself. All of a sudden, every guy that hits a basketball court, football field, or golf course thinks that he is the most astonishing person to ever walk the Earth. Athletes are becoming delusional and it is destroying there performance and personal lives. Professional athletes are losing sight of what they are, highly paid entertainers. Nothing more, nothing less.

Hubris has almost completely decimated any chance for the Chicago Bears to reach the playoffs. The quarterback, Jay Cutler, a strong-armed gunslinger, has decided that he can do no wrong on the football field, no matter how terribly he plays. He continuously gives the football to the other team, disregarding instruction from his coach, Mike Martz. Because Cutler has more arm strength than anyone in the league, he thinks that he can fit the football into tight coverage and get it to his teammates. He is wrong. Cutler’s over-confidence keeps him in bad situations on the football field. But, he is not solely at fault for the impending demise of the Bears. Martz, considered to be an offensive genius, refuses to concede that Cutler can not run his offense the way that it needs to be run, and will not modify his coaching philosophy to hide Cutler’s deficiencies. Martz is a Super Bowl winning coach, who knows how great his offense can be. He wants Cutler to figure out his offense and make better decisions. The Bears are losing while the two of them figure out which of them is right.

Hubris has the Minnesota Vikings, one of the National Football League’s most talented teams, close to missing the playoffs too. Brett Favre, one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, has decided that he, personally, is bigger than the team. He is in an outright power struggle with the head coach and recently told the media that he only wanted to play in his last football if Childress, the head coach, was going to leave him in, so that he had a real chance of winning that game. That is not his decision, it is the coach’s decision. Because, Favre is more worried about losing face in public, he is publicly undermining his head coach. But, his pride does not stop at just football issues. He allegedly sexually harassed a female co-worker with his last team, because who could deny a professional football legend his every desire. Favre faces a possible suspension behind this, which would cost his team any chance of reaching the playoffs, because his backup is unproven and irratic. And Favre is married. But, Childress is no better. He let two quarterbacks “fight” for the starting position that was already filled unbeknown to both of them. Then, he picked up Favre, the actual starting quarterback, at the airport himself and introduced him to the team. The arrogance of Brett Favre and Brad Childress have crushed almost any chance of their team winning a championship this year.

Tiger Woods lost everything that he held dear in 2009, because of hubris. He was the greatest golfer on the planet, maybe the best in professional golfing history. He was one of the world’s most recognizable faces. Tiger was wealthy, married to a Swedish model, and had a beautiful family, all while demolishing his competition on the golf course. Like Favre though, Woods was not satisfied with just his wife at home. One woman was not enough for the best golfer in the world. He had numerous affairs that all became public when he and his wife were involved in an argument that got out of control. Tiger Woods lost his wife and kids, half of his earnings, and his golf game because he thought he was entitled to more than the “average” person. He thought wrong.

Allen Iverson, a first ballot Hall of Fame guard, has diva’d his way out of the NBA. The same cockiness that took him to the NBA Finals and a NBA MVP award, has stopped him from accepting a lesser role on a NBA team. He failed to finish his last two stints on NBA teams, and now no team will pick him up. Iverson has deluded himself into thinking that he is the same guard that led the league in scoring in Philadelphia. While his self-confidence should be applauded, he should also be in reality about what he is now. He’s an aging star, past his prime, with a fraction of the physical gifts that made him great, and a poor work ethic. His pride clouds his vision of himself.

Sometimes, hubris even spreads into management and ownership. Mike Shanahan, the coach of the Washington Redskins, has alienated his star quarterback by benching him in the last two minutes of his last football game, the most important time of the game. He has completely shattered his teams faith in their leader, and does not have a serviceable replacement. Shanahan won two championships with Denver and thinks that every decision that he makes is the right one. Shanahan is wrong.

The owners of the Dallas Cowboys and the Oakland Raiders, Jerry Jones and Al Davis respectively, have guaranteed that their teams will never return to the prominence that reached in years past with the stranglehold they have on their teams. Because they can not limit their involvement in the football affairs, the only attract inept head coaches.Thus despite having very talented teams, they constantly underachieve. The better coaches will not work for them, because they realize that they need autonomy and full authority to win. Hubris has cost these owners the very thing that they covet.

Athletes need high esteem. They need to think they are the best at their sport to succeed, but they need grounding just like the average person. When pride turns to entitlement, that entitlement soon gives way to poor decisions. Athletes need someone or something to tell them that they are just like everyone else, before they hurt their teams, or even worst, themselves.

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